Thursday, 27 July 2017

Eating organic on a budget with The Soil Association

One of the many things I have been considering lately is switching to organic. Everywhere you turn on the internet there is someone else telling you what to eat or what not to eat. One of the things that I find about organic food is that it is usually pricey. However, with a bit of careful budgeting and meal planning I think that there is room for everyone to add a little bit of organic into their lives!

Five top tips for buying organic on a budget

  1. Shop in season – Buying organic fruit and veg when it’s in season gives you the best value for money. Organic fruit/veg has less pesticides and chemicals and also contains more key antioxidants. Eat Seasonably ( does the hard work for you by listing all the fruits and veg that are best to eat right now. This week, try: blackberries, runner beans and courgettes.
  2. Try the basics – If you’re new to organic, milk is a great place to start because it gives you lots of benefits. Widely available and more value for money, organic milk has around 50% more beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, and secures a good return for British farmers. And it’s easy to enjoy organic milk when you’re eating out– did you know that McDonalds and Pret a Manger only serve organic milk?
  3. Stock up on organic essentials – As they have a longer expiry date, organic store cupboard essentials can be great value. Items like organic baked beans, pasta and canned tomatoes are often be found for the same price as the same non-organic items. 
  4. Look for deals online - Bag a bargain on a variety of organic foods, as prices are slashed throughout Organic September. Find out more about offers and promotions on organic products in September: 
  5. Try a different cut of meat.  Eating less, but better meat is good for our health and the planet. Trying lower cost organic cuts like shoulder or belly can make a big difference to your wallet – and they have more beneficial nutrients too. Pop into your local butcher for advice on cuts, or make a weekly roast which can provide a couple of meals.

Some examples

  1. Kallo Stock cubes £1. 60 v Knorr at £1.75(organic 8.5% cheaper)
2. Clipper Everday Organic tea x 80   £2.60 v
PG Tips x 80 £2.50(organic is 5% dearer)

3. So Organic Cheddar cheese 270g £2.15 v
Cathedral City non organic cheddar 350g  £3.50(organic 20% cheaper)

4. Yeo Valley big pot £1.50 v Onken non organic big pot £1.50(on par)

Other products which are often close in price
- pasta
- tinned tomatos
- babyfood
- porridge own brand organic v non organic brands
- jams and honey
- houmous

Quick note about organic chicken
Organic chicken is clearly more expensive than non-organic. This is for two very good reasons! First, organic chickens have a much better life. Non-organic chicken are fattened much faster - they are usually slaughtered when they are 38-39 days old, and have much less room to roam. Organic chickens live twice as long (at least 80 days) and are fattened more slowly. Second, non-organic chickens are given antibiotics regularly, whether they are sick or not. This is becoming an issue that will threaten human health. Organic chickens are not given antibiotics unless they really need them. Giving antibiotics to groups of animals when they don't need them increases the likelihood of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria.).

Do you eat organic? What are your favourite brands?

Charlotte Lucy

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Miss Saigon: Curve Theatre, Leicester

They sometimes say that comparison is the theif of joy, and I think this is definately true when it comes to musical theatre. By now I must have seen or performed in hundreds of musicals and if you check my spotify I am usually listening to a soundtrack. As I write this review I have my Ghost soundtrack playing in the background. The problem with this is that whenever I go to see a show I am 90% of the time comparing it to the last cast or the original cast soundtrack and Miss Saigon was no different.

I first saw the show in Birmingham back in 2004 and fell in love with the story. Most people would tell you its a love story between Kim and Chris, while I see it rather differently. I see it as the story of Kims ongoing love for a soldier who never expected her to keep loving him after he left, but take from that what you will!

The Curve's production was fantastic, although I had no idea that the songs had been altered slightly and so it was interesting! For me there were two standout performers Sooha Kim who played Kim actually captured the essence of the role. She embodied the fragile girl who arrived in Dreamland right at the beginning and grew in strength throughout the performance. She had me in tears pretty much from start to finish through her stellar portrayel of the character.

Secondly Red Concepcion as the engineer totally blew me away. It takes a really strong performer to keep you engaged and laughing in such a serious play and he managed both of these things. I was especially impressed with his performance of the American Dream. It takes someone special to capture the audience on an empty stage, but his manner was spot on.

Now onto the dissapointing part for me. My absolute favourite song in the show has been cut! The producers had decided to replace Ellens song "Now that I have seen her" with a far less powerful, "Maybe". This to me is such a poor song. The character of Ellen to me is already weak, and this song is just the final nail in the coffin for her. This obviously is a poor production choice in my opinion, nothing to do with the actress who played her.

Overall though I think that if you see this show you will not be dissapointed. The staging and chereography are fantastic and their is not a single weak link! Unfortunately I saw it on the very last day at the Curve (which also happened to be my birthday!) but it is now on in Birmingham until the end of September so there is plenty of time for you to see it! I am hoping to catch it again before it moves on!

Have you seen Miss Saigon? What did you think?

Charlotte Lucy

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

5 Things I Need You To Know About My IBS

I feel like I am coming to the end of my tether with my IBS. These are just 5 things I think that EVERYONE needs to know about IBS.

1. It's more than just bloating and it's not "just" IBS

When I was first diagnosed with the condition I was told by the doctor not to worry because it's nothing serious it's just IBS. I didn't give it much thought at the time but after year of living with the condition I can tell you there is nothing just about it. I think a lot of people google IBS and decide they have it because they bloat after a big meal or the get occasional diarrhoea once in a while for no reason. While I know that you can get various severity's of the condition mine pretty much affects me everyday. I am constantly asked when I am expecting. I am on a number of prescribed medications and it really does control my life.

2. It's not just about poo.

I know we Brits don't like to talk about poo, and a number of films and tv like to take the piss out of Irritable Bowels (I'm looking at you inbetweeners 2 ...) but that's not all IBS is about. Yes its one of the symptoms but did you know the thing that bothers me the most is the fatigue? Jenna recently wrote a fantastic blog post about fatigue and I think people don't often associate this with IBS.

3. Its not all in my head.

Yes recently my anxiety has been a big trigger for flares and I am working on that, but IBS is not all in my head. Its a viscous circle between this, my anxiety and now my query endometriosis but that doesn't mean I can think it better. Lots of things trigger flares, foods, antibiotics and other medications can all trigger reactions and telling me to calm down when I am desperately searching for a toilet or on a crowded bus is NOT HELPFUL IN THE SLIGHTEST.

4. You're clean eating advice just makes me roll my eyes.

I think people want to push their clean eating agenda on everyone. I am currently looking for some reputable sources for evidence based advice on diet with IBS and Endometriosis, but if one more person tells me to go gluten free or eat wholewheat bread I will probably scream. I tried the FODMAP diet and ended up back at the doctors deficient in pretty much every vitamin and mineral. I have to be very careful with the food i eat, but also take it on a day by day basis. Something that has triggered me in the past might be OK now. If I know that I am going to be in a situation where there is no toilet access (e.g. a long bus journey) I will stick to very plain safe for me foods. This may be more for my anxiety but its my way of coping.

5. I sometimes have to cancel plans last minute.

Which I KNOW sucks for you. My friends are fantastic and I can usually text them saying I'm going to be late because I am stuck on the loo, or that I am too fatigued to go to an event. I feel a lot more unable to do this when it comes to blogger events. I feel really silly emailing people I don't know and cancelling, but when I have a flare I sometimes can't leave the toilet and other times I only have the energy to do the bare necessities. Yes I might still be able to get through a shift at work, but that's because if I don't work I don't get paid.

What do other IBS bloggers wish people would know? I'm interested to hear your thoughts! Also please leave your blog links below, I would like to meet a lot more of the Spoonie Blogger community!


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Health Update ...

You know here on my blog I like to be honest. Well honestly for a while I have been in denial about my Gynae health. Theres a few posts I could write to go into more detail but one thing that's important for you to know is that back in May 2015 I had a consultant told me I wasn't in pain. As someone who has been suffering from chronic pain for about 8 years now this threw me. When you are constantly going for scans and they find nothing (OK so not nothing, in 2010 I had my gallbladder removed, in 2011 I had a cyst removed and then in 2013 I had pancreatitis) However on several of my hospital admissions the scans showed nothing. The blood tests showed nothing. Most of the doctors I was under were as puzzled as me, and referred me to the pain team who were fantastic. They acknowledged the pain, and said although they couldn't find a course they wanted to help me manage the pain. So after this consultant, we will refer to him as Doctor Dickhead, told me that I wasn't in pain, my anxiety went into overdrive and I stopped going to professionals for help. It sounds silly now but I ignored my appointment letters and decided I would just have to get on with it myself.

Back in October 2016 I was on a night shift when I felt this excruciating pain in my left side. I took paracetamol and carried on but during the course of an hour it went from bad to worse and so Tom came to pick me up from work. I didn't want to go and see anyone even then but as nothing was touching the pain I surrendered and went to the walk in centre. I ended up being admitted to the Gynae Assessment Unit for pain control and the next day an ultrasound scan which revealed a 10cm cyst on my left ovary. The consultant said she would book me in for surgery 4 day later and I cried like a baby. I think she thought I was scared for the surgery, which you know I was slightly apprehensive, but to have someone validate my pain after so long just broke my heart. After thinking it was all in my head and being told that by someone I trusted, it was almost too much to take in.

The surgery went ahead, laporoscopically and despite a few minor hiccups (like an air bubble in my lung and an infected wound) I got back on my feet. Then my periods started getting more painful again. I finally saw my GP last week and then on Thursday night I was back at square one. Left sided increasing pain, nausea ... walk in centre followed by surprise surprise the GAU.

I am now at home resting and waiting for a scan tomorrow morning. I am on so many strong dose painkillers and antibiotics that I know my IBS is going to go downhill. My mental health is all over the place, part of me wants them to say its not a cyst because I really don't want more surgery but I am pretty convinced it is. There is a lot I need to talk to the consultant about because as its only 9 months since my last surgery, surely they cant keep opening me up?

If you've read this thank you I just needed somewhere to get this all out of my head. I know realistically I shouldn't be worrying about it too much because until I have my scan tomorrow there is nothing I can do. The pain isn't going away completely but I have open access to the unit should I need it so for now I am going to sleep some more (codeine makes me very sleepy)